A former North Leamington teacher and youth club leader has walked free from court despite sexually assaulting four girls more than 25 years ago.
Because repeated abuser David Wesley has been found to be suffering from dementia, a judge at Birmingham Crown Court had his hands tied over how to deal with him.
With no other options available to him, Judge Patrick Thomas QC had to give Wesley an absolute discharge – despite the fact that the offences would normally attract a prison sentence of many years.
However, he will have to register as a sex offender for five years, and was made made subject to a sexual harm prevention order, also for five years.
Wesley, 66, of Offchurch Road, Cubbington, Leamington, had denied a total of 21 charges including indecent assaults on girls under the age of 16 and on girls under the age of 14.
He first appeared at Warwick Crown Court as long ago as December 2016 when it was said he had committed offences against the four girls on dates between 1977 and 1992.
At that time Wesley was a teacher at North Leamington School, and was also involved as a youth club leader at Cubbington Methodist Church.
Wesley’s barrister Scott Coughtrie asked for Wesley not to be arraigned at a previous hearing because the papers in the case had only recently been served on the defence.
Judge Stephen Eyre QC commented: “He knows whether he has or has not committed these offences.”
Mr Coughtrie, who said it was ‘a very complex historical case,’ indicated: “This is going to be a trial.”
At a later hearing Wesley pleaded not guilty to the charges, and was to stand trial at the end of October last year.
But two weeks before it had been due to start, the trial had to be adjourned after the court was told that Wesley was in hospital.
He was subsequently found to be suffering from dementia and, on the evidence of two psychiatrists who had examined him, mentally unfit to stand trial in the normal way.
Instead, a ‘trial of fact’ took place at Birmingham Crown Court, where a jury was asked to decide whether he ‘did the acts alleged,’ rather than whether he was guilty of them.
In relation to 16 of the 21 allegations, they found that he did the acts - although in law that is not a conviction.
And because of the finding that he was unfit to stand trial, there were only three possible disposals – a hospital order detaining him in a psychiatric hospital under the Mental Health Act, supervision in the community or an absolute discharge.
But a hospital order can only be imposed if the person is suffering from a condition which is treatable.
After an adjournment for the options to be considered, Judge Thomas observed: “A hospital order isn’t appropriate because his health condition cannot be helped.”
And he said that, again because of Wesley’s dementia, supervision was ‘not an option,’ leaving an absolute discharge as the only option.